Astros sign Rick Ankiel

Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

Astros and Ankiel agree to a minor-league deal with an invite to Spring Training.

The Houston Astros agreed to a contract with Rick Ankiel that will bring him to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee, reports Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. Ankiel will come to the Astros as a hitter and will not return to pitching.

Ankiel, 33, hit .228/.282/.411 with five home runs in 171 plate appearances last season for the Washington Nationals before he was released on July 27th. For his career, Ankiel is a .244/.306/.422 hitter with 69 home runs. His best season came in 2008, when he hit .264/.337/.506 with 25 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Ankiel came up with the Cardinals in 1999 as a pitcher. He started 30 games in 2000, going 11-7 with a 3.50 ERA in 175 innings. He experienced control problems in the playoffs in 2000 and only pitched in 11 more major league games before being turned into a hitter.

Ankiel will be reunited with Astros manager Bo Porter, who was a coach for the Nationals and general manager Jeff Luhnow, who worked in the Cardinals front office from 2003-11.

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